How To Get Into Google’s Answer Box – Simplified
Since 2013, when searchers have used Google to answer a question, or do a search about something that Google could infer as a question, at the very top of their results they have included an area that “answers” the question. That little spot is Google’s Answer Box, and yeah, it’s a big deal.
Why is Google’s Answer Box a BIG Deal?
In Google’s Answer Box, you might not even see the website that Google ranks first for a given query or question, but instead the site and the associated content that Google feels best answers the question. And if you’re reading this, it’s likely you understand the importance of getting an Answer Box listing. Getting in Answer Box puts you above the numero uno ranking – which means you can siphon off that precious traffic from the top spot like you’re stealing gas out of Corvette. It also shows that regardless of who Google ranked first, your page is by far regarded as the most knowledgeable for that search and you have the best answer possible. And did we mention it makes you look like the expert on that subject? Because, at least for that question or search, Google is telling searchers that you are.
By now you’re probably asking yourself, “Man, it would be super-sweet to get in Google Answer Box! I wonder if I can get one of those spots? If someone would just tell me how, I’d love to buy that guy a beer!”
Go get your beer money, because we’re going to show you how to increase your chances of getting one of those coveted spots.
Where to Start? Research!
As with everything in search engine optimization and search marketing, you have to begin with keyword research. Yeah, it’s a drag, but if you’re trying to answer a question that nobody is asking, it doesn’t matter if you get the Answer Box. And, chances are, Google isn’t likely going to have one for obscure questions that nobody is searching for. Sit down with an open spreadsheet, a strong cup of coffee, your favorite keyword research tool and your site. Do any of your pages have the potential to answer a question for that person? If so, what kind of question could it possibly be?
Remember, Google is looking for good, quality answers for their customers – which in turn could be yours. And Answer Box is a reference tool more than anything. If you’re coming up with questions like, “Which is better, Ford or Chevy?” you’re not thinking about this correctly. However, if you’re coming up with questions like, “Where did the Chevrolet name come from?” or “What are the torque specs of a 4L60E transmission?” you’re getting it.
Identify the Opportunity
Now, take your list of questions and sit down with your favorite keyword tool. Is anyone searching for any of those? No? Keep trying. Don’t forget, you can use Google – start doing a search and see what they suggest. And since it’s Google doing the suggesting, chances are there are going to be people who click on Google’s suggestion. How about if there is a significant number of people searching for your questions? Excellent. Double check the traffic for that query and head to Google to see what the results look like.
When you’re looking at the Google search results, you’ll either see there is already an Answer Box listing or that there isn’t one. If there is one, don’t get discouraged. You still have an opportunity to give an even better answer. And if there isn’t one, double check the amount of traffic for that search. If you feel there’s a lot of people looking for that one precious answer to the question that is keeping them up at night, then this is your chance!
You might find it helpful to do a few searches to see the kinds of content Google is finding useful. Explore not only Google’s SERP, but also look at the page being featured in the Answer Box. Don’t stick to just your niche. Looking outside of familiar territory will make sure you’re not missing out on opportunities because you’re so focused on the competition and judging their content against yours. If I’ve said it several times in this post I’ll say it million more – you’re looking to give Google the best information for their visitors.
If you believe the old adage “time is money” and you feel your time would be better used elsewhere than scanning search results, then check out BrightEdge. This tool lets you drop in queries and filter out which have Answer Box results and which don’t.
Since we’ve established there’s enough traffic to warrant going after an Answer Box, now comes the fun part – answering the question.
Answer the Question Directly. Be Succinct!
The most basic, and probably important piece of the equation is answering the question. “Duh!” you’re thinking. “This guy must be some sort of wizard of obviousness!” I know that seems obvious, so save your sarcasm. You need to establish that you are answering the question. And the easiest way to do that is to ask the question in your content. If your page is all about answering a question, use your title, <h1> or a sub-head to ask the question. That doesn’t fit what you’re trying to do? Use it in a subhead or simply ask it in the body copy itself. Then answer it as directly as possible.
However, it isn’t as easy as you may think. Google is trying to get users to use that SERP as a reference, so having a long and drawn out answer to the question you’re posing isn’t going to work. The goal here is to find a succinct way of thoroughly providing an answer everybody’s favorite search engine can use.
For example, if you’re answering the question “what is google answer box?” you need to give enough details to provide a good answer. Have a picture or diagram to go with? Make sure you optimize that image to show up as well. Have a chart? Make sure you have fields labeled to indicate it’s relevant to the answer. All of these details help indicate that you – or rather your site – know what you’re talking about and are capable of giving Google’s users a great answer.
You will also find there’s a lot of “How do you . . .” type of questions as well. The best way to handle those is by giving step-by-step directions in the order the task should be done. For example, if you’ve never eaten a taco before and you go to Google and ask, “how to eat tacos”, you’ll get a step-by-step lesson on, you guessed it, eating tacos.
As you can see in the above image, Google has outlined the steps of properly eating a taco. You can also see that if a step was more involved than Google had space for, the answer has ellipses at the end of it to indicate there’s more information for that step. And while the Answer Box is titled, “Method 1 Minimizing Mess and Containing Your Fillings”, notice what the page title is – “How to Eat a Taco: 10 Steps (with Pictures) – WikiHow. Not only has this page told Google, “Yo, this page is about eating tacos”, they laid out a step-by-step plan for Google to share with that guy who keeps getting pico de gallo down the front of him.
There’s More After the Answer
At this point you may be wondering what to do if an answer requires more details, information or background than an Answer Box result may allow. No worries. Lay out the steps or provide the answer, and then elsewhere get as deep into the details as you wish. Doing so not only benefits your visitors, it helps show Google that you have a lot of great, relevant information on your page which is the exact reason why they should use it for an Answer Box result. Don’t shortchange your visitors to simply try and get into Answer Box. Not only is that short-sited, you’ll likely miss out on a lot of other opportunities.
Finally, once you’ve done an amazing job of quickly and directly answering a question, make sure your SEO is up to par. Look into the basics, and then dig a little deeper with a bit of schema markup. Focusing on SEO and schema markup helps Google indentify what your page is about, which in turn helps ensure that page is relevant for an Answer Box result. As with anything dealing with the search engines, the more information you can give them, the better chances you have of getting your content found.
Remember, as with anything dealing with search engines, nothing is instant. Persistence and patience pays off in the long run, and if you’re only looking for a quick result, you’re only going to be disappointed. Getting into Answer Box isn’t rocket science (I mean, I’ve done it), but with a lot of competition vying for those spots, that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Now, about those beers….